Research group IBON said that the resumption of peace negotiations between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) is a tentative step forward for socioeconomic development. After this first round, the talks will take up social and economic reforms to address the underdevelopment plaguing the nation and that is at the root of armed conflict, the group said.
The Duterte administration’s release of several political prisoners last week paved the way for the resumption of talks which stalled five years ago during the previous Aquino administration. The talks opened formally yesterday in Oslo, Norway.
According to IBON, this high-level venue for both parties is a welcome development for economic policymaking in the country. The Duterte administration’s economic agenda remains an elite-oriented neoliberal strategy that undermines people’s rights and welfare. This is carried over from the Aquino and other administrations and is inconsistent with Pres. Rodrigo Duterte’s pro-poor and nationalist positions on other issues, the group noted.
IBON stressed that neoliberal economic policies create the country’s inequitable and divided dual economy. There is high growth and prosperity for oligarchs and foreign investors that dominate a few service sectors and enclave industries in exploitative global value chains. Yet the majority of Filipinos suffer record joblessness, landlessness, low incomes, uncertain work, and decrepit public education, health and housing.
According to IBON, this momentum of neoliberal policies is a major area of concern. The group anticipates that the talks will result in the measures needed to genuinely develop the national economy and improve the welfare of tens of millions of Filipinos. Broad public participation and support for the talks will greatly strengthen and improve people-centered polices and the country’s prospects for development, IBON.